Estonian PM discusses defense cooperation with Czech counterpart

  • 2020-02-18
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas met with his Czech counterpart Andrej Babis on Tuesday to discuss defense cooperation between the two countries, negotiations for the EU's next budget framework as well as cooperation on digital matters and cyber defense.

"Last year, Czech soldiers participated in the Amari air policing mission for the first time. I wish to thank them for their contribution to the security of our region and assure that they are always welcome here," Ratas said.

"Last year, members of the Czech army were stationed in all three Baltic countries as part of NATO's enhanced Forward Presence mission as well as the Baltic air policing mission, which sends a clear message of NATO's unity and dedication in our region."

The prime ministers also discussed the negotiations of the European Union's new budget framework ahead of the extraordinary meeting of the European Council taking place in Brussels on Thursday.

"Estonia and the Czech Republic are both strong proponents of a strong EU budget. It is important to Estonia for the new budget framework to help us reach the goal of climate neutrality and support the increase in our people's wealth," Ratas said.

Estonia prioritizes maintaining and establishing connections, and values the opportunity to receive support from the Just Transition Fund.

Ratas and Babis also discussed digital cooperation between Estonia and the Czech Republic, including in the development of a common digital identity in Europe. In addition, the prime ministers briefly discussed the issues of cyber defense and the safety of 5G communication networks.

"In terms of cyber defense, the Czech Republic is a valued and important partner for us, with whom we cooperate closely," the Estonian premier added.

The Czech Republic has been a member of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Tallinn since 2014. Before concluding the meeting, the heads of government discussed the Eastern Partnership and the Three Seas Initiative, the summit of which will take place in Tallinn in mid-June.

Babis will also meet on Tuesday with Kaimar Karu, minister of foreign trade and information technology, and visit the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence, the e-Estonia Briefing Center, and the company Bolt. In the evening, Babis will meet with Henn Polluaas, president of the Riigikogu.